Conference paper Open Access

Critical Big Data Literacy Tools – Engaging Citizens and Promoting Responsible Internet Usage

Sander, Ina

Datafied societies need informed public debate about the implications of data science technologies. At present, internet users are often unaware of the potential consequences of disclosing personal data online and few citizens have the knowledge to participate in such debates. This paper argues that critical big data literacy efforts are one way to address this lack of knowledge. The paper draws on findings from a small qualitative investigation of the effectiveness of online critical big data literacy tools. Through pre and post use testing, the short- and longer- term influence of these tools on people’s privacy attitudes and behaviour was investigated.
The research showed that the tools tested had a predominantly positive initial effect, leading to improved critical big data literacy among participants, which resulted in more privacy-sensitive attitudes and internet usage. When analysing the tools’ longer-term influence, results were more mixed, with evidence suggesting for some that literacy effects of the tools were short-lived while for others, they led to more persistent and growing literacy. Research findings confirm previous research noting the complexity of privacy attitudes and also find that resignation towards privacy is multi-faceted. Overall, this study reaffirms the importance of critical big data literacy and produces new findings about the value of interactive data literacy tools. These tools have been under-researched to date. This research shows that these tools provide a significant means to work toward empowering internet users, promoting responsible internet usage and ideally enabling more citizens to engage in public debates about changing data systems.

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